Sweet, juicy pears are in season and are so versatile to bake with. I especially love the combination of pears with vanilla. This week I felt like trying my hand at a bit of confectionery.
The French term for these deliciously soft sweets is “pâté de fruit”, which means “fruit paste”. Unlike jelly sweets set with gelatine, these are softer in texture and not quite as chewy or jelly-like. The secret to achieving this texture is using pectin.
Pectin is a soluble fibre naturally found in the cell walls of plants. Citrus fruits and apples contain high amounts and are used to produce pectin commercially. Therefore these sweets are completely vegan. You won’t find pectin at your local supermarket, and most baking stores don’t stock it either. You can however buy it online from Faithful to Nature.
Be sure to use a sugar thermometer and weigh all your ingredients accurately to guarantee success. Vanilla beans are in short supply at the moment but vanilla paste works just as well!
1kg ripe pears
1 vanilla pod or 2,5ml vanilla paste
600g granulated sugar
14g Earth Products Apple Pectin (available at Faithful to Nature)
120g liquid glucose*
20g lemon juice
Additonal granulated sugar, for coating
- Line a 20cm x 30cm rectangular dish/tin with greaseproof paper, and very lightly grease the paper.
- Roughly chop the pears, removing and discarding the cores. Process in a food processor, then strain through a sieve to produce 500g smooth pear purée.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the pear purée to 50°C. If using a vanilla pod, scrape the seeds into the purée and add the pod to the purée too.
- While the purée is heating, weigh out 100g of the sugar into a bowl and whisk in the pectin. This step is very important to prevent the pectin clumping later on.
- Add the sugar and pectin mixture to the pear purée, and whisk very well. Bring to a boil, whisking all the time. Allow to boil for 1 minute.
- Add the remaining 500g of sugar and the glucose syrup, and bring up to 106°C whisking frequently. This takes some time (about 25 minutes), so be patient. It will hover around 100°C for ages, but don’t give up. It’s really important the mixture reaches at least 106°C, or it won’t set.
- If using a vanilla pod, remove it now.
- Once the temperature has reached 106°C, add in the lemon juice and whisk very well. Remove from the heat. The acid in the lemon juice will cause the pectin to start setting so you’ll need to work quickly now. If using the vanilla paste, stir it in now.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, being careful not to splash any mixture on yourself!
- Leave the mixture to set for 2-3 hours at room temperature.
- Once set, sprinkle about half a cup of sugar onto a chopping board. Turn the set mixture out onto the sugar. Peel off the greaseproof paper carefully (the mixture will be set but still quite soft). Sprinkle another half a cup of sugar on top, spreading all over to cover the surface.
- Using a sharp knife, slice into small squares, about 1cm x 1cm. You could also use cookie cutters to cut out little shapes. I find it easiest to wipe the knife clean inbetween every slice.
- Roll the squares or shapes in additional sugar, so that all edges are coated.
- Store the fruit gums in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
*Available from baking stores